03 February 2016, PNP: Like in the other protected areas of Bhutan, Phrumsengla National Park is tirelessly exerting concerted efforts in the pursuit of discovering and adding new specimens to their existing flora and fauna list. Recently, in December 2015, a team lead by Mr. Rinchen Wangchuk, Head Research & Monitoring Section, PNP, had confirmed that Podocarpus nerrifolious commonly known as Brown Pine is lushly thriving inside the park with sound stand and profuse regeneration too. It is a new plant taxonomy for the park where this specimen had not been recorded till now.
With this, the total specimens in the plant list for PNP has increased to 623 species which is, however, not an exhausted list, meaning it requires time and effort for further exploration in the future. The patch of major chunk of Podocarpus is located (Longitude 27°16’53.2”N and Latitude 091°04’28.1” E) at a place called “Parang” adjacent to “Simnagpa” and opposite to the “Clingmai” winter grazing camps of Ura people under Saling geog in Mongar.
Podocarpus nerrifolious, according to the International Union for Conservation of Nature (IUCN) is not yet assessed to determine its status or even not listed in their catalog of Life (www.iucn.org). With regards to the information on its distribution in the region it’s recorded in some South Asian countries but not in Bhutan.
In the Flora of Bhutan published by the Royal Botanic Garden at Edinburgh in London, specific distribution information is not reflected for Bhutan. As per Dorji, Y (2010) Millennium Consultancy Services, in his work on Red Data List for the Flowering Plants of Bhutan the status of Podocarpus in Bhutan is recognised as critically endangered and reflects that it is found only in Buyang under Trashiyangtse in the country. During the recent tour to the upper Kheng area a survey team sighted single tree few kilometers from Dakphai along the Dakphai-Buli road in Zhemgang.
Podocarpus nerrifolious is classified under the family Podocarpaceae which represents the broadleaf species although it is a conifer species based on its leaf morphology (Flora of Bhutan Vol. 1 Part 1). The habitat variables recorded in the particular patch of forest attitudinally ranges from1500-1750 meter above sea level with a slope percent ranging from 15-85% on West and South Western aspects. There were no other water bodies present or running through the patch of forest. The stream flowing from the north side has a gorge formed due to landslides before joining Sengorchu the river once proposed for developing Shongarchu hydro project inside PNP area.
The type of forest found in the area is moderately dense warm, broadleafed forest established on rocky areas. Canopy height of trees in the area is estimated to be about 30-35 meters high and 85-90% canopy cover. The associative plant species at the tree level includes Cinnamomum bejolgota, Engelhar diaspicata, Toona cilliata, Bucklana populnea, unknown broadleafed tree species found to be a dominant competing with Podocarpus trees (white bark similar to Lithocarpus sp.), etc. Shrubs comprised of species like Syzygium sp., Vernoniavol kamerrifolia, Cinnamomum sp., Symplocos sp., Daphne sp., Lonicera acuminate with underground species of Begonia sp., Sapria himalayana (Endangered species), ferns, etc. with the beddings of dry leaf litters on the ground floor. The other plant species include the Plectocomia himalaica, unknown Bamboo sp. and many strangling unknown climbers.
A total of 23 numbers of Podocarpus trees having attained sizes beyond poles (> 1’ girth) were recorded. The biggest tree girth measured was 200.66 (63.90 DBH – diameter at breast height and Basal Area = 3.21 m²) and tallest height estimated was 32 metres with clean bole. On the other hand, 179 numbers of seedlings below one feet height were counted. From the field observation, regeneration of Podocarpus in the natural forest could be successful if well managed through proper and timely monitoring.
According to literature, the tree yields a high class timber used for carpentry work like making oars, paddles, masts, camp furniture, ladders, airplane parts, tea boxes and also for packing in India. However, it is a poor quality fuel wood. The wood seasons well and does not develop surface cracks. The wood is nonresistant to white ants but is durable under cover and in contact with water. The fleshy receptacles of the fruit are edible. It is used as a second grade timber in Cambodia for construction works.
- Submitted by Rinchen Wangchuk, Head, Research and Monitoring Section, PNP and Ugyen Namgyel, Park Manager, PNP
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